by Sisterdebmac & TeeJay

Bad news prompts Adam to turn up on Joan's doorstep in his time of need, paving the way for reconnection. Very dark and very angsty at first, more and more fluffy towards the end. This is a collaboration between Sisterdebmac and TeeJay.

TeeJay's Author's Note:
This started out as a one-shot, one that I wrote, titled "Butterflies". It was this really dark, angsty piece that I didn't think was worth posting. But since both Sisterdebmac and GermanJoan kept yelling for more of my stories, I eventually sent it to them, if only to shut them up for a while. (No offense, guys, I know what it's like to be craving more stories!)

And then something amazing happened. Sisterdebmac said she was so moved and inspired by my little story here that she wrote a second chapter. Completely out of the blue. Wow. That's when this thing developed a life of its own because I kept writing to continue Sisterdebmac's storyline and she kept continuing mine, each of us feeding off each other's ideas. It's been an amazing experience. Still is. I don't think I've had this much fun writing fan fiction before. Thank you. For everything. Especially brightening my office day right around 3:30 PM every day.

Sisterdebmac's Author's Note:
What an adventure this has been! I had no idea. I hadn't even finished my very first JOA fic (The Haircut) when I read TeeJay's first chapter of what became Butterflies. But as soon as I put it down, I knew that was not going to be the end of the fic. It has been a delightful back and forth since then. And there's no end in sight yet.

Also of note, I couldn't even read fics that one might consider smut before we got started on this fic. Now, I can't seem to stop writing them! But hey, at least in our story Joan and Adam are grown-ups. Somehow it just feels right that after all this time, they wouldn't be able to keep their hands off each other. So settle in for a little angst, a little romance, a whole lot of fluff... and if you dare to delve into the Mature Version of Butterflies, some serious smut.

Once again, I must say that if not for reading and falling in love with the stories of my two favorite JOA writers, TeeJay and Tote, I would not be doing this. Thanks to both of you for all your great work! And thanks to TeeJay for the help and encouragement, and the giggles.

Additional Note:
Due to some... well... heavy fluff, reader discretion is advised. I'd say from chapter 4 on, this gets quite juicy. Nothing too heavy, but let's just say that Adam and Joan are enjoying each other's physical proximity in very sensual ways. :o) Don't say you haven't been warned.

And this story is not the "whole story". We have a couple more scenes in between that aren't posted with this version of "Butterflies" because they have a definite R-rating. If you're interested in reading them, check the M-rated section here (story ID 3042947). We're gonna post those scenes there after the chapters they belong with. Think of this like extras on a DVD—the deleted scenes. But don't worry, this story can stand alone and still work if you're not into that kinda thing.

Now get your remote controls and hit the PLAY button. No need to beg you to leave lots of reviews, please, right?

A devastated Adam turns up on Joan's doorstep unannounced to seek comfort. Joan tries to do the best she can for him.

Rating: PG-13

These characters and settings are not ours. Nor are we claiming they are. They are property of CBS, Barbara Hall Productions, Sony or whoever else they might belong to. We're not making any money out of this, although that would be really cool.

Chapter 1
In Times Of Need

by TeeJay

Author's Note:
This one's dedicated to Sisterdebmac. Because her incredibly sad and angsty dream that she shared on the message board sparked something in me that made this appear in my head. Kinda scary, don't you think? Or just plain weird? Or normal? Nah, not normal, but what's so great about normal? (If I may borrow that phrase from "Roswell"...) Thanks for the great e-mail conversations, girl! They have made and still make my day. And for feeding the obsession, of course. In a good way.

Oh, and I sure need to mention GermanJoan again. You keep being my "friend in need" when it comes to needing input and ideas for all these stories. Keep that going, I'm loving it. Also thank you for all the hugging and cheering me up when I'm down or whining about something insignificant or other.

You both rock, dudes! Now, please get your Dorquette Drool Towels and prepare for a very dark ride into yet another future Joaniverse that I hope won't keep existing beyond this story, mainly because it's so incredibly sad. It was one of my infamous scene flashes. And when they happen, there's no resisting them until you've written them down.

These characters and settings are not mine. Nor am I claiming they are. They are property of CBS, Barbara Hall Productions, Sony or whoever else they might belong to. I'm not making any money out of this, although I wish I was.

She knew something was wrong as soon as she looked at him. The way his shoulders were slumped, his head was bowed, his eyes shone with something desperate as he met her gaze.

Joan's hand went to the edge of her apartment door she had just opened upon someone ringing her bell, so as to prepare herself for whatever was to come. "Adam, what is it? What's wrong?" she inquired softly, yet urgently.

His voice was even quieter than usual, she could barely hear him above the loud noises of the TV that came from next door—old Mrs. Leary's hearing wasn't as good as it once had been.

"My dad died."

Joan gaped at him, not really understanding. "What? Oh my God. When?"

Her hand went to her mouth as she stepped, almost stumbled back into the hall. Adam followed her wordlessly.

They just stood opposite each other when she had closed the door. She dared look into his eyes again, and there were no tears in them. Just shock and confusion and that silent desperation.

"This afternoon," he answered her question, his words hollow and empty.

"Oh Adam," she managed in a sympathetic, pained voice. "Here, give me your jacket."

He just stood limply, as if taking off his jacket was too much effort, put too much strain on his energy reserves. She took a step closer and carefully helped him out of his jacket that she hung on the coat rack.

He didn't move, it was as if he'd forgotten how to function. She didn't know what to do except to do the only thing she could think of. She stood in front of him and took him into her arms, squeezing him just enough for him to know that she was there for him.

He didn't react at first, didn't do anything, but after a moment, his arms came around her back and he returned the embrace. Very softly, she whispered into his ear, "I'm so sorry."

If Joan didn't have her chin buried in his shoulder, she would have seen that Adam's eyes filled with tears. The very first tears after he had received the phone call, after he had been confronted with that ultimately final statement at the hospital that had informed him of his father's passing.

But she didn't have to see them. She knew. She knew even before she could feel his shoulders shaking, the sobs racking his body. She squeezed him a little tighter yet, let him cry while they were still standing in the dark corridor. Her own eyes slowly filled with tears and she had to sniffle.

She didn't know how long they stood there, how long she stroked his back and just let him pour out his grief, his shock, his pain. It might have been five minutes, it might have been twenty, she couldn't tell. Nor did it really matter.

When he had quieted down somewhat, she gently pushed him away from her, ever so softly wiping at the tears on his cheeks with her thumbs. "Come here," she whispered and guided him to the couch in the living room on which he sat down.

Joan went into the kitchen to get a glass of water for each of them, which she put down on the couch table in front of them, more out of habit than out of necessity. She sat down next to him, not knowing what to say, how to comfort him. What could she say that would make any difference? He had already lost a mother, and now his father too? That was just something unimaginable, something incomprehensible for her. She still had two healthy parents—and hoped it would stay that way for a long time.

The silence grew heavy, but maybe it was silence that he needed. Just to know that someone was there who cared. She looked at him. His gaze was empty, fixed on the edge of the couch table. His hands were folded, resting on his knees—and she could see that his knuckles were white from squeezing his hands together.

She put one of her hands on his and she could feel him relax somewhat. It prompted him to look at her as he removed his right hand from his left to turn it so he could take Joan's hand that still rested on top of his. She intertwined her fingers with his, much as they had often done when they were still a couple in high school. How long ago had that been? Four years? Five? She didn't see him that often anymore now and she tried to remember when was the last time that she had before today. Two months ago, she guessed, maybe three.

Joan didn't ask any questions, didn't prod him to talk. She knew he would when he was ready.

She didn't have to wait long. Eventually, the words poured from his mouth, very softly but still more collected and composed than she would have thought. "It happened this afternoon. It was a stroke, the doctors told me. He was at work, and he just collapsed, they said he didn't even feel it coming. They tried to revive him all the way to the hospital. He never regained consciousness."

She turned her head to study his face, could see that his eyes were filling with tears again. "And then I got this phone call, but they wouldn't tell me anything specific, so I went to the hospital and ... and he was already dead." His voice cracked, the tears now freely flowing down his cheeks. "He was already dead," he repeated. "I ... I couldn't even say goodbye. Couldn't even tell him I loved him."

She squeezed his hand. "He knew, Adam. He knew you loved him. Parents know things like that."

"Yeah," he whispered. "But I wish I could have told him one last time."

After another minute of silence, she softly asked, "Does Grace know yet?"

"No," he replied. "It took quite a long time at the hospital and then I left and I ... I don't know ... I just drove around and somehow I ... ended up here."

It was as if he was saying that this was the place he wanted to be, this was the first place he could think of that offered the comfort he was seeking. The soft ground to fall on in desperate times of need.

"Do you want me to call her?" Joan offered.

Adam met her gaze. "No," he whispered. "I'll ... I'll do that."

"Okay." She knew it was hard on him. So much harder than she could imagine. "Okay," she said a second time.

They continued to sit in silence, hands still intertwined. She was aware that she had a loose appointment with a couple of friends to go out that night, like they did every other Friday night, but somehow that seemed utterly insignificant right now.

"Is there anything I can do?" she carefully asked. "Anything I can help with?"

Adam just slowly shook his head. She had the suspicion he wasn't really thinking straight right now. And maybe that was okay. It was certainly understandable.

There were so many things going through her head, she so desperately wanted to help him, to take care of him. "Have you eaten? Do you want anything?" God, that sounded so lame.

He shook his head again, still not saying anything. Not knowing what else to do, she put her hand around his shoulder, drawing him to her. He didn't resist when she pulled him closer.

For a long time they just sat there, Adam's head resting on Joan's shoulder. She could hear him sniffling occasionally and she knew all he needed right now was someone to be there, someone who wouldn't ask questions and wouldn't try to come up with false promises of things turning out okay.

They were both violently jerked to wakefulness half an hour later by Joan's phone ringing. She quickly got up to answer it.

"Hey, girlfriend, where the hell are ya?" her friend Lydia cheerfully piped into her ear.

Joan quickly went into the kitchen, to have some more privacy. "Lydia, I'm sorry," she said. "I can't make it tonight."

"What? Why?" Lydia was oblivious to her current situation, of course.

Joan sighed. "Adam's father died today and he came by and ..." What else did she need to say?

"Oh." Lydia's voice clearly fell above the pub-noise commotion Joan could hear in the background. "Well, that's ..." Obviously, Lydia didn't have any good words either for a situation like this. "Joan, I'm sorry," she said, her voice now truly sympathetic. Lydia didn't actually know Adam all that well. "I guess I'll see you on Monday, then."

"Yeah," Joan said to her friend. "See you on Monday."

When she came back into the living room, Adam was standing up, looking at her with apologetic eyes. "Jane, I should go. I..." He trailed off and drew his hand through his hair. He looked so worn, so tired.

She stood on the other side of the couch now, meeting his weary gaze. "You shouldn't be alone tonight. You shouldn't be driving. You're exhausted, try to get some sleep." It wasn't so much a demand as an offer.

"No, I... I'll be all right." There wasn't much resistance in his voice despite the negating answer.

"I'll take the couch," she said, trying to sound comfortingly resolute. "You need a proper bed."

Adam just looked at her, not able to make a decision. She could see that he was hesitant to accept her offer. "Please, it's the least I can do," she almost begged.

"Okay," he said in a low voice.

"I'll get you something, hang on," she told him. She went into the bedroom and came back with one of her old, baggy t-shirts and a pair of men's pajama pants that she had taken to wearing at night. She guessed they'd just about fit Adam's now a little more well-toned but still lean figure.

"Here, you should be all right with these."

He accepted them wordlessly and went into the bathroom. She ventured into the bedroom again, prepping everything for her spontaneous but welcome visitor, even though the circumstances weighed heavily on her own heart.

When she entered the bedroom after she had been preparing for bed in the bathroom herself, she found him lying on his back, the covers she had placed there for him covering his body to his torso. He was staring at the ceiling, but his gaze lingered on her as she went to the other side of the king size bed to gather her sheets she would be taking to the couch.

Adam's gaze was almost pleading on her as he asked, "Jane? Can you stay here tonight?"

At first she didn't know what he meant, but then it registered with her. "Yeah," she said softly. "Of course."

She put the covers back down and lay down on the mattress next to him. She hadn't known he needed the physical nearness that badly, but she was there a hundred percent to give him whatever he thought he needed.

She wasn't sure just how close he wanted her to be, so she just lay on her back, waiting for a reaction—if it was to come at all. Maybe it was just enough for her to be there, next to him, for him to know she would be by his side, no matter what. Joan could already feel herself drifting off to sleep. She tried to fight it, but it was battle she knew she would eventually lose.

The illuminated numbers on her electronic alarm clock told her it was 03:49 when she awoke. Shaking off the first few seconds of disorientation, she suddenly remembered what happened and realized that the side of the bed next to her was empty.

She wearily got up and found him in the living room, standing by the window, staring out into the dark night and the sky that was obscured by clouds that looked like they would shed their moisture any time now. She quietly went up to him to stand next to him.

"Hey," she said very softly. "Can't sleep, huh?"

He just shook his head slowly from side to side. His bare forearm brushed hers as he did and she could practically feel the goose bumps on his skin. Getting the fleece blanket from the armchair, she unfolded it and lightly draped it around his shoulders, giving them a slight squeeze as she did so.

"Adam," she whispered. "You should try to get some sleep."

He looked at her, his stare empty at first before he focused on her after a few seconds, like a movie camera panning in and zooming into focus. "Yeah, I guess," was his listless answer.

"Come on." She softly guided him into the bedroom and into bed. And this time she didn't keep her distance. She laid down right next to him, his head on her chest, stroking his hair ever so softly. "Close your eyes," she whispered to him. Her fingers caressed the hairline on his temple as she said, "Let it go, just for now."

She could feel him relaxing, feel the tension in his muscles loosen ever so slightly. He was getting there. She lay like that for a while, could feel him drifting off to sleep, his breathing becoming more regular, his breaths longer and deeper. He had finally fallen asleep and she felt just a tiny portion of gratitude for small favors.

She knew tomorrow would be just as hard a day, maybe even harder. All the more important that Adam caught some much needed sleep. She stopped stroking his hair and tried to find a position that would be comfortable to sleep in without awakening him.

She wanted him to wake up in the morning with her being there, with him knowing he could count on her. Always. Even in times like this. Especially in times like this. And she was glad that their friendship had endured all those hard stretches, all those years of ups and downs. And then, suddenly, she could feel those butterflies in her stomach, those butterflies that she hadn't felt for a long time.

She wondered what they meant, but before she could come to a conclusion, sleep claimed her and took her to a place where everything was just a little bit better, or at least a little less tragic.